The Force India Formula One Team's chairman and team principal Dr Vijay Mallya today confirmed at its Silverstone headquarters, in the presence of all staff members and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, that Otmar Szafnauer has been appointed to the position of Force India chief operating officer. Otmar will take over the role from Simon Roberts, who has now completed his one year secondment from McLaren Applied Technologies.
Otmar has a wealth of Formula One experience having held, amongst other senior motorsport management positions, director of strategy and business planning for Honda Racing F1 Team from 2006 - 2008 and operations director at British American Racing from 1998 - 2001. He will now take over Simon's direct responsibilities, including overseeing factory and trackside operations and will ensure maximum productivity from all Force India in-house departments. Furthermore he will liase with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines to strengthen the existing relationship.
Simon will return to McLaren Applied Technologies to take up a senior management role and will continue his involvement with Force India from the other side of the partnership.
Dr Mallya commented, "Otmar was selected by myself in full consultation with McLaren to replace Simon, who has now completed his secondment with Force India. We are sad to see Simon go as he has been a crucial linchpin in the transition to the McLaren and Mercedes drivetrain and his dedication and professional stewardship has led the team to achieving its first-ever podium in F1. However he was always on secondment and we knew we would have to let him return to the McLaren fold. We are confident that Otmar, with his wealth of F1 experience, will be a worthy successor and will continue the strong upward trend we have seen in the last half of the season."
Simon Roberts added, "I am sad to leave Force India, a team that has welcomed me and is now achieving real success. I am delighted I will still remain involved in the team from the other side of the fence and look forward to providing all the support both McLaren, Mercedes and Force India require."
Otmar Szafnauer said, "Force India is a professional outfit that is now achieving competitive and highly promising results. Simon has set a high standard to continue and I am eagerly anticipating getting stuck in to this latest challenge."
Simon will remain in his current position until 2 November. Both Simon and Otmar will attend the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix to ensure a smooth transition period.